In Photos: Our Rarotonga Destination Wedding



Just over a year ago, I got married in beautiful Rarotonga in the Cook Islands on 24.11.16.
Since I have written posts on how to plan a destination wedding and a review of the Pacific Resort Rarotonga as a wedding venue, I thought I would share some of my wedding photos too, in case anyone is planning on having a destination wedding there themselves.

I 100% recommend it, it was such an incredible day and we couldn't be more happy with how it turned out. We both loved Rarotonga so much and can't wait to return again soon.
I hope you enjoy a snippet of our special day (don't worry, I won't share anything too lovey-dovey!).

Photography: Melanie Cooper
Venue: Pacific Resort Rarotonga

 







 
 








 
 






 

 









 

Five reasons why you should visit Rarotonga, Cook Islands


I got married in Rarotonga in the Cook Islands just over a year ago and I miss it so much! One week there was not enough and I'm yearning to go back and revisit the beautiful island this year.

If you're thinking about going (and you absolutely should), here are five reasons to help convince you to book those flight right now.

The friendliest locals

The amazing Rupene at the Pacific Resort

I couldn't get over how welcoming, laid-back, friendly and easy-going the locals are.
Every person you walk past will greet you with a great big smile and a booming "Kia Orana" (hello).
The customer service everywhere you go is excellent and you will notice what a huge difference it makes to be around such happy and positive people.


A slice of paradise

The happiest girl

The stunning white-sand beaches and aqua-blue lagoon will make you feel like you are walking around in a postcard.
Snorkel in the warm crystal-clear water, soak up rays on the beach or flop under a swaying palm tree.
This island slice of paradise is easily accessible and has direct flights of less than four hours from Auckland or Sydney and less than 12 hours from Los Angeles, Singapore and Hong Kong.


The incredible food

Best fish sammies on the island at The Mooring

I loved the food in Rarotonga so much I have already written a whole post about it: Best Places to eat in Muri, Rarotonga.
Food is a big part of Cook Island culture and that is reflected everywhere by being readily available, fresh, tasty and lovingly prepared.
The fish especially is the most delicious I have ever had in my life and one of their local dishes 'Ika Mata' knocked my socks off! (Or should I say, jandals).


Soak up the culture

Some of the awesome dancers at Highland Paradise

The local Polynesian culture is enthralling and I couldn't get enough of it while I was there. There's something about the beating of drums, the traditional dress, tribal dancing and storytelling that is absolutely mesmerising.
There are two popular cultural night shows that include a delicious buffet dinner feast;
Te Vara Nui Village and Highland Paradise.


Ultimate relaxing getaway

A tropical cocktail at the Barefoot Bar

From the second you get off the plane you are now on island time. The warm breeze will dance on your face, the traffic is minimal, the sparkling sea is calling your name.
The locals have a relaxed approach to life which means coming here for a holiday is exactly what you will get. It is the perfect place for couples, friends and even families with young children.
Rarotonga is incredibly easy and enjoyable, with plenty to do if you want or to just chill and soak up the relaxing island vibes.

Where to stay: Pacific Resort, Rarotonga - an incredible resort where I got married! I have a detailed review of them here if you are interested.

Barefoot Bar, Pacific Resort

When to go: It is beautiful and warm year-round and there is no bad time to go, however, the dry season is said to be the best which is May - October.

Where to eat: Anywhere that serves fresh seafood! If you would like my recommendations for Muri, check out my post here.

What to do: Join a snorkelling lagoon tour such as Koka Lagoon Cruises and Captain Tama's. Head to a cultural night as mentioned above, they are on alternate days so check their website for the days they are open.
You can go on a quad biking adventure tour through the jungle, hire a scooter or bicycle and explore the island. Go hiking, scuba diving, swimming, fishing, kayaking, the list goes on. Don't forget to save some time to relax!

A spot of snorkelling and kayaking in Muri Lagoon

I hope you are inspired to visit the beautiful Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, one of my absolute favourite places in the world.

P.S If you are thinking about getting married here, I 100% recommend it!!! We couldn't have imagined a more perfect day in absolute paradise.
If you would like to see our wedding photos, visit here.



Let me know in the comments if you have been or are wanting to head there yourself!

Happy Travels,
Pin it! :)

Hotel & Wedding Destination Review: Pacific Resort Rarotonga


I can't believe it has already been three months since I got married in Rarotonga!
The time certainly has flown by, I can imagine it will be one year before I know it.

It was about time I wrote about the wonderful Pacific Resort, who made our wedding day and the months leading up to it such a breeze, as they took care of absolutely everything.
The communication, special touches and their experience all made them the perfect choice as a wedding venue (as well as a fabulous resort to stay at) and I couldn't recommend them more if you are looking at having a tropical destination wedding yourself.
It really was the ultimate dream wedding location and my now husband and I couldn't be happier that we chose to have it with them.

I have already written a post on How to plan a Destination Wedding: My Experience which goes into more detail about why we chose Rarotonga to get married in and Pacific Resort as a venue and all the details that go along with planning.

I'll begin with details of the hotel, and it is in my opinion probably one of the very best you can stay at on Muri Beach, before moving on to it as a wedding venue.


Pacific Resort: First Impressions

We arrived late in the evening and although there were five or so couples from the same flight as us checking in at the same time, it was a very quick and painless process.
The friendly porter took our bags for us and showed us to our room. The lush pathway was well lit with flaming torches and I already knew I was going to love the place.
It was 10:30 pm when we arrived at our room (which was huge and looked amazing) and we quickly realised there was no room service available which we were counting on. We hadn’t eaten on the plane as it wasn’t included and we were planning on having dinner once we arrived (as it was still 6:30 pm Australian time we were on).
But as it was a Sunday, there was absolutely nothing open on the island- no hot food to be found or even a packet of chips or peanuts around the hotel. So sadly we went to bed rather hungry, but they did have a drinks fridge in the lobby, so we had two beers each first- which I’m not sure helped or not! Never mind, we were very much looking forward to our breakfast the next day. It was completely our own fault for not realising how late we would be arriving and not travelling with snacks!

In the morning we woke up to the stunning views of crystal clear aqua waters from our room. After a delicious continental breakfast we checked out the pool area and walked around the gorgeous resort. The frangipani and palm trees and tropical vegetation gave it such a relaxing and luxurious feel. The beachfront and lagoon views were so incredible!
I couldn't get over the colour of the water. We were so ecstatic to be there.

The welcoming entrance
The muesli, yogurt and fresh fruit for breakfast was the best!
Stand-up paddleboards and kayaks to use at your leisure
The beachfront Barefoot Bar
Tranquil sunset from the beachfront

The Room

As it was our wedding we splashed out and booked the Beachfront Suite which was an incredible room with a dream view. Located on the first floor right on the beach, it had all the facilities you could want for. To the right of the main door was a kitchenette with cooking facilities and the modern bathroom leading after that was kitted out with fresh flowers and complimentary toiletries.
Ahead was a wide open-plan space with a super king bed, a desk and chair, sofas and table. Our favourite feature of the suite was our own personal balcony, which had two chairs and a small table and comfortable bean bag sofas to relax on. That's where we spent most of our time when we were in the room because the views were so stunning- I wanted to soak it all in and enjoy it for as long as I could.
Also included in the room was air conditioning, a flat-screen TV, a safe and a large wardrobe with fluffy bathrobes and slippers. The only thing it didn't have was free WIFI- and that's because you cannot find free WIFI anywhere on the whole island. (We purchased a local sim-card pre-loaded with data upon arrival at the airport).

Relaxing on the balcony!
Amazing balmy views
The Beachfront Suite room (picture by Pacific Resort as I forgot to take one myself!)

Beyond the Room

Pacific Resort offered many facilities and activities free of charge. At the Beach Club you can use snorkelling equipment, kayaks and stand up paddle boards as you please.
You can swim or kayak across the lagoon to the Motu (island) ahead and visit there.
On the beachfront you can find loungers, sun umbrellas and beanbags to relax and catch some rays.
They have a Kids Club that runs daily, a nice pool where you can find fresh clean drinking water. Their Sandals Restaurant and Barefoot Bar are both excellent and even visitors that are not guests of the resort come to eat and drink here because they have delicious food and a great reputation.
Located directly across the road is the Pacific Village Salon which offers hair, beauty and spa services (where I went on my wedding day and got my nails done prior too).
There is a convenience store two minutes walk up the road as well as the Muri Night Markets and other shops and places to eat; Pacific Resort is in an excellent location.
To get around the island you can hire a scooter at the resort or the local bus that goes around the island twice an hour stops directly at the resort as well.

Enjoying a spot of snorkelling and kayaking
Enjoying the tranquil views on the beachfront
The pool (photo again by Pacific Resort as I forgot to take one myself...)

Fantastic Staff

Every single member of staff we encountered was highly professional, warm and friendly and made our stay that little more special. Everyone you passed around the resort greeted you with a friendly smile and "Kia Orana."

There are a few special people in particular I would like to mention. Veronica- the Wedding & Events Sales Agent, was our first point of contact in the months leading up to the wedding and helped us to organise and plan everything. As well as the numerous emails back and forth, we had two skype calls with her and she always made us feel so at ease and took care of every request. She answered all of our questions and made the wedding planning process so smooth. We were constantly changing our minds about things in the lead-up and she didn't mind at all! She was wonderful to work with.

Leilani- the Operations Coordinator, was who we met with at Pacific Resort. We had a pre-wedding day consultation with her and she showed us around the property to the ceremony and reception locations and ran through the schedule. She also took us to the Justice office for the marriage licence, to the florist and to meet with our celebrant. 
Leilani was so lovely and made us feel very confident that our day was going to be amazing. She was even the one to come get me when the time had come and I was to walk down the aisle, and she was there for most of the reception as well, making sure everything was running without a hitch. We didn't even notice her there to be honest- she was like an angel in the background!

A couple of bartenders get a special mention too- Rupene who worked our wedding was incredibly friendly and I loved his smile. He also did very generous pours! Aside from that night, he was just as lovely during the rest of our stay too, always chatting to us.
Anal also went out of his way to make our stay extra great, as did the matrie d' who unfortunately I didn't get her name.

Other special touches from the staff included a lovely surprise gift the day after the wedding.
On our final night we asked the reception staff if we could have a late checkout the next day as we had a late night flight. It normally costs an extra $250 but they waived it for us- special treatment for the wedding couple I guess! We got to stay in our room until 6 pm and we were very grateful for that.

Our lovely gift included a sun hat, sarong, bottle of wine and flowers

Lead up to the wedding

I go into more detail about the planning process in my previous wedding post linked above in the first paragraph, and once we arrived in Rarotonga all of the extra things needed to be done were taken care of spread out over the space of a couple of days.
Meeting with the coordinator, being walked through the locations, sorting the marriage licence, choosing our flowers, going through and changing our vows with the celebrant- it was all simple and hassle-free.
I had made gift bags for the guests and we handed them and the seating plan over the day before the wedding to take care of. They set up, decorated and arranged everything themselves- it was all included in the package. It was such a weight off and so nice not having to worry about doing that myself!

Getting our marriage licence

On the big day

The day did go fast- I think that is unavoidable! But it was a very enjoyable one and certainly one of the best days of my life.
In the morning we had breakfast at the restaurant as usual and then went our separate ways. Luckily Gareth's dad was also staying at the resort so he met up with him and his best man there in his room and they went to lunch and got ready together in the afternoon.
My maid of honour joined me and we went together to the salon across the road. We started on our hair and makeup (with some obligatory champers!) and an hour later my two sisters and mum who were also getting their hair and makeup done there also joined us.


I was very pleased with my hair. It was simple, delicate and pretty, which was exactly what I wanted. However, to be honest I wasn't too impressed with my makeup.
I didn't get a trial done so it was my own fault really. I wanted a really natural, pretty and glowy look, but I didn't feel that after my makeup was done. I had to ask for my eyebrows to be washed off (as I felt I looked like Mr Bean with those eyebrows!). They were just too bold and dark for my liking- I wasn't used to it. She also went for a very strong smoky eye which was too dark and quite messy. I took most of it off back in my room. I also added some extra touches that I thought she would have done- such as mascara on my bottom lashes, white eyeliner and highlights. It was a bit disappointing because it did cost a lot of money and I even had to pay extra just for being the bride.
But I was very happy with my hair, I was able to fix my makeup and everyone else's hair and makeup looked really good on them, so I'm glad about that. I would still recommend them. The ladies that worked on us were very friendly and did try their best for what we wanted- I would just strongly suggest doing a trial first if you're the bride.

After the salon we had an hour or so to finish getting ready in my room. When we arrived our beautiful freshly-made bouquets were waiting for us.



After squeezing into my dress and walking in circles with my bestie, the time had come and Leilani came and fetched us! I was a bundle of nerves by then. (Not about getting married- it was more the other people there that would be staring at me- I'm not the centre of attention kinda gal).
Apart from thinking to myself "Don't trip" and "Suck in" I also noticed the path I was walking down was so beautiful and perfectly groomed. There were fresh flower petals scattered everywhere and flower posts leading my way up to the guests waiting at the beachfront location. It was so pretty!



I joined Gareth and the rest of the bridal party under the beautiful handmade floral archway and the rest of the ceremony was a blur! As soon as it ended we were immediately presented with a drink (which I needed and gladly took).


We had group photos taken on the beach before heading to the reception area. The string band was sitting just outside the marquee and they sounded so lovely- we are very glad to have chosen that as an extra. It really added to the tropical and laid back vibe we were hoping for.



The bar was open and platters of food were being served around. The tables were so wonderfully decorated. It far exceeded my expectations and I was so grateful they took care of everything themselves.

This was only half of the marquee area. To the left was the bar, DJ area and plenty of space for a dance floor


The enormous cake that we ordered through Pacific Resort's supplier was such a stunning centre piece! I accidentally chose the largest size and it was much bigger than I thought- but it did look very impressive (and tasted amazing too).



There was a large lawn area for the guests to hang around outside the marquee as well.
The whole reception area was very large and private from the rest of the resort which was just perfect.

Gareth and I were then whisked away to do some location shots with the photographer.
We were given a bucket of beer on ice and a platter of food to take with us which was so very thoughtful and welcome (as I hadn't eaten lunch except for a banana and it was about 5 pm by then).
Our photographer Melanie Cooper, also originally from New Zealand was so easy breezy and wonderful to work with. Highly recommended if you are in need of a photographer in Rarotonga. I'm still waiting for the wedding photos, but I'm sure I'll get them soon.

Then it was reception time! The string band had finished and our playlist we created had begun (starting with easy going music). I was immediately asked and given a drink of my choosing by Rupete, the lovely barman.

My seat and a much-needed mojito
We had our speeches and then it was time for dinner. We had selected the gourmet buffet option which was beautifully presented in a large canoe. The food was better than we could have hoped for- it was all so fresh and very delicious. They catered for all of the different requirements we asked for (some gluten and dairy free etc.) without a problem. Everyone told us they loved the food- and there was so much of it! The dessert as well was perfect and we were so happy and satisfied.
The bartender all night long was awesome and smiley- he had great customer service and made us whatever we wanted.
The rest of the night was party time where we cranked the music, danced and enjoyed the evening. I loved the fairy lights hanging off the sides of the marquee which made an excellent backdrop for photos.
Unfortunately the music had to stop by 10:30 pm which we found quite early. But to be frank a lot of people said it was a good thing because things could have gotten messy!
I suppose with an open bar since 4 pm there were a few merry people by that stage.
It had been such a wonderful day and Pacific Resort helped make it truly epic.


Tips

Do have skype calls and ask any questions you have in the lead up to arriving. They have the answer to everything and want your day to be as amazing and special as you do, and will try their very best to make it happen.

Don't bother with sky lanterns- it's usually windy and didn't work for us! We tried to finish the evening with them as a surprise but it was quite a fail.

I would highly recommend you don't book one of the drinks packages which are very expensive- just have an open bar. We literally saved thousands of dollars this way.

Get a trial makeup done prior to the day if you're the bride!

You have to try the Ika Mata (Rarotongan raw fish salad) at Pacific Resort- best I had on the island! For other recommendations of places to eat and food to try I have a post on: Best Places to eat in Muri, Rarotonga.

Make the most of the happy hours twice a day. The cocktails and local beer are delicious!



The Details

Hotel: Pacific Resort Rarotonga

Location: Muri Beach, Ngatangiia District, Cook Islands

Reviews: Certificate of Excellence on Trip Advisor with 4.5/5 stars out of 1,044 reviews.

Price: Depends on the time of year but Standard Studio Rooms start at $200 NZD a night. For wedding packages and prices download their Wedding Pack.





Final Thoughts

I honestly can't thank Pacific Resort enough for everything they did to make our wedding day as incredible as we could have possibly imagined. Gareth and I couldn't stop gushing about how happy we were and that our guests had told us they really enjoyed it too, which was exactly what we wanted- especially as they had come all that way just for us.

We were so glad we chose to have a destination wedding, as it was only our closest friends and family that came which I think made it so much more enjoyable and special for us.
It was more personal, completely stress-free and quite simply- easy. I'm not the kind of girl to plan a wedding myself. I haven't been dreaming of it since I was a little girl. So having professionals take care of it all for me and all I had to do was chose where, when, what food and entertainment I wanted (okay it was a little more work than that, but you know what I mean)- it was just perfect.

Again, if you are looking at a destination wedding yourself- I couldn't recommend them warmly enough. Even if you aren't getting married and want to stay in a fantastic resort in Rarotonga, for a special occasion or just to treat yourself- your stay will be one you will never forget. Their genuine friendliness, hospitality, little extras as well as being in a stunning location all make for the perfect beach getaway.
Our time there was absolutely magical and if I had to go back and do it all again- without a doubt it would be at Pacific Resort. That's how you know you made the right decision!


If you would like to see more photos from my trip check out my travel diary post and I also made a video for YouTube from my incredible week there:



I hope you found this hotel and wedding destination review helpful.
Please get in touch or let me know in the comments if you have any questions at all about getting married in the Cook Islands.
Rarotonga is such a paradise and we were incredibly sad to leave. We absolutely cannot wait to return and stay again with the amazing Pacific Resort.

This post is not sponsored; it is as always my genuine thoughts and opinions.

Happy Travels,
Pin it! :)

Rarotonga Travel Diary in pictures


Hey all,

Unfortunately with such a small window between the Cook Islands and my next trip to Vietnam (tomorrow morning), I just haven't had the time to write up my promised Rarotonga Travel Diary. 
I do however have many notes from my trip so I will be editing this post in the future into the proper intended travel diary, much like my last one from Bali. For now- here is my week in Rarotonga in pictures!
I have had time to write my previous post: Best Places to eat in Muri, Rarotonga and make my travel vlog for YouTube which you can watch here if you're interested:


I hope you enjoy the photos anyway and can get the gist of my time there-- which was incredible! I had the most amazing week and not just because I got to marry my favourite person in the world!
Rarotonga is such a beautiful island, the people are so friendly, the food, culture, the atmosphere, The Pacific Resort where we stayed and got married was the ultimate dream wedding location- everything was just fantastic and I really cannot wait for the day I get to return to the Cook Islands!

In order, here is my travel diary in pictures:

A warm welcome late on Sunday evening

Monday 21st November

The incredible view from our room at The Pacific Resort
Feeling relaxed!

The beautiful beach-front



Enjoying many a cocktail!


Tuesday 22nd November

We got to see a traditional serenade for the opening of an international boat race

Hopping aboard Koka Lagoon Cruises for my hens day!

My sister sorted me out with the usual get-ups!

Cool glass bottom boat

My maid of honour and I

My bestest friends

Fetching us some coconuts!

The whole girls group

Sister shot

...

Wednesday 23rd November

Gareth walking to his doom ;)

Beautiful nature in the Pacific Resort

A cool sign next to our lunch spot that day

Can't get over that blue lagoon!

My last cocktail as a spinster!

Thursday 24th November

The big day! I took some shots in the morning

The boys cufflinks :D

My jewellery

Getting ready with champers!

Loved my hair!

Where I walked through- so pretty!

The gorgeous hand-made archway for us

Mr & Mrs

Bouquet goals :D

Reception area

Amazing cake!

Really good string band

My seat and a much needed mojito after hours of photos!

Enjoying the night!

Friday 25th November

The nest day... burgers for breakfast!

A lovely wedding gift from The Pacific Resort

Enjoying the local brews!

We went to Highlands Paradise for a buffet dinner and cultural dance show

Shot with some of the talent

Saturday 26th November

Spot of canoeing

And snorkelling!

Unfortunately my camera died after this so I didn't get any fish shots!

Dinner at Sandals, this was the best Ika Mata (local dish of raw fish salad) I tried!

Sunday 27th November

Exploring the island

Loving the Nu! (Fresh baby coconut) 

Best fish sandwiches on the island at The Moorings

After lunch I bussed around the entire island enjoing the views (it only takes one hour).

Relaxed a little on the beach before having to pack our bags

One last dinner and dessert at the nearby Muri Night Market

A final beer and sunset on the beach before out late night flight home

I'm off next to Vietnam for two weeks so I will be away from here until then.
Stay tuned for my proper Rarotonga Travel Diary, my hotel and wedding destination review of The Pacific Resort and of course plenty of Vietnam blog posts!
I'm looking forward to jumping back into writing when I return, but for now- happy December and catch you next time!
Right... time to go pack!

Best Places to eat in Muri, Rarotonga



I'm back fresh from my week in Rarotonga and I couldn't wait to start writing. As well as a travel diary and hotel review - one thing I particularly wanted to write about was the food!
I am starting 'Food'/ 'Best Places to Eat' as a new category on my blog as I am such a big foodie and I always love reading other people's suggestions of where to eat too.

As I was so busy with wedding stuff most of the time I only ate around Muri which is the area I was staying in, but I was more than happy with that. Every single meal was so good it surprised me! Food is a big part of Cook Island culture and that was reflected everywhere by being readily available, fresh, tasty and lovingly prepared.

Muri is one of the top places to stay in Rarotonga - with a stunning crystal clear aqua lagoon hugging the white sandy beach, many great accommodation options, activities and of course a fantastic selection of restaurant and cafe choices!
Here are my top picks around Muri, Rarotonga for the best places to eat:


The Pacific Resort

I'll start with The Pacific Resort, where I was staying at as I ate there quite a lot.
I have to also quickly mention their cocktails which were so good and always beautifully presented, giving that ultra tropical holiday vibe.


'Barefoot Bar' is located right on the beach and you can enjoy a range of different drinks with a superb view.
They have two happy hours a day which is well worth using to cut down those costs.
They go from 4 - 5 pm and 8:30 - 9:30 pm. Certain cocktails go for $10 and beers come down to $5 (both almost half price).
I must also mention they did the best flat whites (coffee) we could find and had one there every day.

A mai tai and pineapple mojito at the Pacific Resort

'Sandals' is their restaurant and like the bar, you don't have to be a guest to eat there, but bookings are recommended.
My very first dinner there I ordered the 'Fish of the Day'- and I think that was the best fish I've ever had in my life! (I'm going to mention fish quite a lot in this post because it's their top local food and OH so good!).
It was Yellow Fin Tuna which I had grilled and it was per-fec-tion. It came with a nice fresh salad and you could choose any other side you wanted with it, I had the roasted vegetables. Everything was fantastic - I devoured it! For $28 NZD it was really great. (I didn't take a picture of it as I was eating with my family and forgot).
Sandals is an open-aired restaurant overlooking a stream, lit with candles and has a live musician every night which all made for a beautiful setting and a very pleasant evening.

Later in the week, we decided to have dinner there again as it was pouring with rain and we didn't want to venture too far. We hadn't booked and they were full up, but they let us eat at the bar which was fine as it was still a nice table but with a view overlooking the beach.
Three of us shared a main sized Ika Mata for our entree.
By then we had tried Ika Mata a few times before (Rarotongan raw fish salad) and loved it - but we discovered the Pacific Resort was the absolute master of it. It was so incredibly zingy, tasty and fresh - we were fighting over it at the end! It also came with a side of crispy taro chips - another local fave.

Ika Mata
As my main, I had the 'Chef's Special' which was a sizzling hot plate of fish and vegetables. Again, it was cooked so well and the coconuty sauce on top was so creamy and delicious.
The fish changes daily depending on their catch of the day - this one was Parrot Fish.
This was their most expensive dish at $35 NZD, and I was more than happy with it.

Chef's special
The Pacific Resort also catered for our wedding reception and everyone told us they loved the food.
We chose to have a gourmet buffet and selected from a range of food options which all were perfectly cooked, delicious and there was also a very large amount of it.
The staff at the Pacific Resort always went out of their way for any minor request, their service was impeccable and I have now written a glowing review of my stay and wedding there if you're interested. Their genuine friendliness and kindness made our week there all the more better.


Vili's Burgers

Just down the road from the Pacific Resort in the heart of Muri is Vili's!
We heard numerous times from locals that this place has the best burgers on the island and is "the McDonalds of Rarotonga"- quoted by my wedding coordinator!
I didn't get a chance to eat there until Friday, the day after the wedding and we went there for breakfast/brunch. (Gareth - now husband - ate there three days in a row).


There is a good range of burger choices available - I chose the 'Tamatoa' for $13 NZD which had a beef patty, bacon, egg, cheese, beetroot, tomato, lettuce and their special secret sauce.


It was absolutely massive! Definitely the biggest burger I've ever had (I've never been to America) and it was also the best! It was so juicy it was literally dripping down my arm (so attractive). I ate almost the whole thing and it certainly kept me full until dinner time - it was just incredible.
I had the same thing again the next day for lunch - except I went halves with my bestie cause I definitely couldn't eat a whole one again.
Highly recommended if you're in Muri and you like your burgers. They are open from 11:30 am - 9 pm every day except Mondays.

Tamatoa burger at Vili's

Muri Night Markets

The night markets in Muri originally started out on Thursday nights to cater for tourists and became so popular it has expanded to now every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday evening.
They have a great selection of local food stalls with main dishes, snacks, desserts, drinks and there is something for everyone.


Gareth and I ate there twice, the first time we shared Ika Mata, a fish curry and crispy spring rolls.
The second time we shared a chicken rukau with rice (a local dish - leaves of taro - similar to spinach) and finished with a crunchie cheesecake. Everything was so good!
The portions tend to be enormous so I would recommend sharing if you can.
The markets are always brimming with people but there are plenty of tables and chairs in the centre under a shelter to sit down and for if and when it rains.
Tuesdays and Wednesdays are usually quieter with fewer stalls, and Thursdays and Sundays offer a greater selection with live music playing to add to the great atmosphere.
The markets start from 5:30 pm so get in quick if you want something in particular - the most popular foods get sold out pretty quick!

Chicken rukau
Crunchie cheesecake
The Mooring

Another place we had heard from two different locals for the "best fish sandwiches on the island" was The Mooring Fish Cafe. We saw it was only a 15-minute walk from the Pacific Resort so we ventured there for lunch on our final day.
It's an outdoor cafe where you sit at picnic tables and enjoy the lagoon view. As it was a Sunday it was full of local people all dressed up in their Sunday-best, they had clearly just come for lunch after church.
The shop itself is within a converted shipping container and decorated and painted in vibrant colours.
There were some great choices on the menu - too many so we asked what they would recommend. The lady said the most popular was the 'FOB' or the Hot & Spicy if you liked spicy food - which we did, so we got one of each to share and also a fresh baby coconut.


Even though they were so busy our order came out super fast. The FOB sandwich was crumbed Mahi with lime mayo and the Hot & Spicy was seared tuna with pickle. Both came on delicious Turkish style bread and were enormous!
They were so fresh and tasty and I really enjoyed both - but I think my favourite was the FOB. The batter on the Mahi was so crispy and the lime mayo with it topped it all off.
We both left feeling very full and satisfied we had found the best fish sammies on the island. For $13 each, it was fantastic value as well. They also do salads, desserts and main fish dishes and are open every day for lunch except Saturdays.

Walking home with my coconut!

LBV Cafe

LBV Bakery & Cafe (Le Bon Vivant) offers freshly baked goods, deli pastas and salads, hot meals, coffee, wine and sweets.
We had lunch there on our first day - we both just felt like a sandwich and we saw a tomato and cheese baguette in their cabinet. We ordered one each and it came served to us cut in half with a nice bowl of chutney on the side. The sandwiches were huge and very fresh and tasty - which we were glad for at $9 each.
We sat to the side in their garden which was very pleasant. My friends and family also ate there regularly and always said their food was good.
I had also pre-arranged catering through them for my 'Hens Day' and they did a fantastic job for that. I ordered a cheese and deli platter, a bakery/sweets platter and a fresh fruit one. There was so much food that arrived (they delivered it free of charge) and it came in a small portable fridge for it to stay cold and fresh.
The bakery sweets were amazing, the cheese platter came with plenty of fresh bread and crackers, there were prawns wrapped in prosciutto - I totally over ordered for 11 people but everyone enjoyed as much as they could. (The photo below was only half the amount!).


There is also an LBV cafe in Avarua if you happen to be around town. Highly recommended for a bite to eat or for catering if you need it.
They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week.


Sails

Sails Restaurant & Bar is located on Muri beach where you can enjoy excellent views of the lagoon. The first time I went there for lunch I didn't even bother looking at the menu - because right outside was a line of locals and tourists alike lining up for a spit roast pork roll. The roasted pig was right there with the guy carving for each person and rows and rows of hot dog sized rolls pre-filled with butter and coleslaw - I thought it was like a Rarotongan styled sausage sizzle!
They went for $10 each and had a decent amount of pork on top and came with gravy and apple sauce if you wanted it. It was the perfect lunch for me.
I knew Gareth would have loved it too (he was with his friends), so the next day we went back hoping for another one. I'm not sure if it was a Tuesday only or just a random thing because it wasn't there again.
No matter - I got to actually look at their menu this time and I ordered pulled pork soft tacos and Gareth got crispy calamari and a side of chips.


We sat outside and enjoyed the beautiful sea view. My tacos came in two so we had one each and just shared everything like we normally do. They were very tasty and the calamari came with a really nice dipping sauce which we also dunked the chips in.
We saw they have regular live sports on their big screen TV and there was an All Blacks game playing the next morning - but we were a bit too busy to go.
The total was $38 including a soft drink each - so a bit pricey, but not too bad for $19 each for a good lunch. The service was great and the food too.

The sweet view from Sails

That brings us to the end of my best places to eat in Muri, Rarotonga! I hope you found this post helpful if you are heading there yourself in the near future.
I really enjoyed the food in Rarotonga - it was always fresh, delicious, decent prices and huge portions, and the people are so friendly which means great service.
Coming up next is my Travel Diary from my week there which I'll be posting before I'm off again to Vietnam which is in four days.

I also made a video for Youtube of the highlights from my week in Rarotonga:


Hope to catch you at my next post!
Thanks for reading,

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I’m getting married in the Cook Islands!


Hey all,

This is a quick post to let you know that I will be away from here for a little bit as I am off to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands to get married!

I will be away in tropical paradise for just over a week and when I return I plan to write a travel diary blog post of my time in Rarotonga as soon as I can!
Then I will be off again a few days later to Vietnam with my then husband (the word seems so strange to me at the moment!) for a fun and adventurous honeymoon.
We are spending two weeks there starting in Ho Chi Minh City, then venturing north to Hanoi where we will be visiting Ha Long Bay which is one of my bucket list dreams!

I recently made a video on my YouTube channel about my wedding and travel plans if you're interested:


I will be back home on the 18th of December so I'll be very busy the week up until Christmas catching up on my blog posts as well as making my YouTube videos!
For those that don't know I have a YouTube channel where I post travel vlogs, lifestyle and a bit of everything really, it's become a great creative outlet for me this year along with my blog.
I'll be doing a Rarotonga travel vlog as well as one for each of the places I go to in Vietnam.
Make sure you're subscribed if you wish to see those!
When I return I will also be writing a hotel review from Rarotonga and plenty as well for Vietnam so I will be one very busy lady!

If you wish to come along on my travels and keep up to date with me follow my social media where I am most active (WiFi dependent!):

Instagram: instagram.com/krystijaims

Twitter: twitter.com/randominic

Snapchat: snapchat.com/add/krystijaims


Thanks so much for everyone's support on my blog this year. I've hit nearly 30,000 views already which is pretty amazing. I'm absolutely loving blogging and I have big goals for the future that I am working hard towards!

I'm off at 3 am tomorrow morning so I will see everyone for a new post when I'm back by the end of November!

Peace and love,

How to plan a Destination Wedding: My Experience



Choosing the destination

First things first! Choose the right destination! Do you have somewhere in mind you have always dreamed of getting married? If it is somewhere that you truly want- then make it happen!
Make sure you have heard the place is known for weddings and that it's a good fit for you.
Whether it's one or two years away or even a few months, it should be an affordable price you can manage.
Pick somewhere that gets you excited thinking about it, where you can imagine tying the knot and having the best day of your life.
Is it on a tropical island on a beach? Perhaps it's in an exciting city in a grand church, or on a vineyard in Tuscany.
Wherever the place, try to pick somewhere that's relatively easy to get to and keep in mind your guests that you wish to come too.

My destination:

For me, I'm not too fussed about the whole wedding thing- I wouldn't mind being married in Las Vegas! For my fiance- his dream destination is in Tuscany (and hey I agree that would have been amazing!).
But if we had of chosen Europe- my family and the majority of our friends would not have been able to make it. We would have been lucky to have more than four guests.
Because we did really want our family there as well as our closest friends- we compromised and chose Rarotonga in the Cook Islands.
It's a country we haven't been to (exciting for me), it's on a stunning tropical island that apparently really does look exactly like the pictures, and it's an easy flight from New Zealand (about four hours) where all of our guests are coming from.


We did consider Fiji as well (also in the Pacific Ocean), but we found the prices of Rarotonga to be more comparable to New Zealand, whereas in Fiji prices of things were over-inflated and quite often double. Rarotonga was better value for ourselves and our guests too and it looks just as gorgeous- if not even more so!

We thought Rarotonga would be perfect for us because we aren't having a traditional wedding, rather we want it to be a very relaxed and fun affair for all of our guests and for us as well- we want to actually have an amazing and enjoyable day!
So many people we have heard from say that their wedding day was ghastly expensive, stressful and goes by in the blink of an eye.
That's why we thought going 'Island Styles' and having a casual ceremony on the beach, followed by a relaxed reception under a marquee in the sand with good music, food and drink would fit us perfectly.




Picking the wedding venue

Once you have chosen your destination it's time to get researching on the wedding venue options! It's a great idea to go with ones that already have great reviews and to choose one that comes with a package and a wedding planner.

What we did:

We booked our trip through Flight Centre and they gave us three good recommendations of resorts where you stay and host both the ceremony and reception.
We took those recommendations on board but the most important thing is to do your own research. We spent hours and hours on Trip Advisor going through every place that offered wedding resorts.
In the end it was a hard toss up between two and I honestly think both would have been perfect. The comments were all lovely and had glowing reviews as wedding venues.
We ended up choosing one over the other because of the stunning luxury beachfront suite we would be staying in for one, which looks like an absolute dream!

We chose The Pacific Resort and we are so incredibly happy that we did because organising our wedding with them has been such a breeze.
They have a fabulous weddings coordinator and she is so great at answering any of our questions, incorporating everything we want and she knows exactly how to make our day run smoothly and without a glitch. We've had numerous emails back and forth throughout the year as well as two skype calls and it really has been so simple and stress-free to work with her- she is very good at what she does!
I can't wait to write a review of the resort as a wedding destination as I'm very confident it will be everything we can possibly imagine!

Once the venue and dates have been chosen, book it along with your flights and travel insurance.

This will be the view from our room at The Pacific Resort! *love heart eyes emoji*

Guests

Choosing who you wish to come is the next step. Start with Save The Dates and send them out as early as you can. If you want as many guests to be able to make it then the earliest warning and most time to save is ideal (for both parties!).
For ours, I just created my own Save The Date image and sent it in an email to each person to save a bit of money.
We asked for an informal RSVP and a few months later once we knew who was interested in coming we mailed out the formal invitations.
For destination weddings it's always nice to keep it small and personal. For us the ideal amount was no more than 30 of our closest friends and family.
If you wish to invite only a select few, then you just have to be very hard on yourself when sending out the Save The Dates. You don't have to invite every distant relative or co-worker- it's your special day so only invite those who you truly want to be there.



Sort the details with the planner

Next it's time to get working with the wedding planner and sort out all of those details!
This will include:

  • Ceremony time and details
  • Celebrant
  • Marriage license
  • Reception details
  • Food and drink
  • Music and entertainment
  • Cake and flowers

Your wedding planner should be able to provide you with all of the information and choices for the above- all you have to do is choose what you would like!
In our packages with The Pacific Resort most things are included and you can opt into extra things if that tickles your fancy.
For example, we just took the basic ceremony package which includes the celebrant, marriage license and certificate, a perfectly groomed area on the beach with 8 decorated chairs and signing table, floral arrangements, sound system and of course the unlimited services of the professional wedding coordinator.
They have many wonderful extras you can include and a couple we have chosen is having a handmade floral archway to stand under and a string band to play for the ceremony and then into the reception for the first couple of hours.
For our reception package included is a beautifully decorated marquee with fairy lights, floral table decorations and candles, flaming tiki torches, linen and chair covers and a sound system.
With our food and beverage packages we have a personal bar with a bartender as well as all of the food organised and cooked fresh on site.
We don't have to worry about a thing on the day except to enjoy ourselves as it will all be taken care of and the wedding coordinator will be there the whole time as well to help with anything to make the day as perfect as possible.



Organise yourself:

Some things that you will have to organise yourself include:

  • Makeup and hair 
  • Photographer 

(For these two above planners should be able to give you good recommendations).

  • The obvious things like your wedding dress, suits etc.
  • Any extras you might like that gives it a personal touch.
    Maybe you'll want to organise some games, have sky lanterns, extra bride and groom table decorations, a lolly bar or ice cream truck etc.
  • Speeches and any readings
  • Seating plan arrangements and any gift bags
  • Hen and stag activities

Extras, gift bags and hen and stag activities are totally optional, but it's always a nice touch especially as your guests are travelling a long way to be with you for your day, and it's a great way to acknowledge that and thank them.
We wanted a day where we could all get together before the wedding, meet up and have some fun- so we organised a boys and girls activity day.
The boys are going out on a big game fishing trip and will be enjoying a BBQ lunch and a few beers on board. 
The girls are doing an afternoon to sunset cruise on a glass-bottomed boat with drinks and nibbles and some organised games on a sandy island. 
Afterwards, everyone is meeting up together at a chosen place for dinner and drinks and it's a fantastic chance for all the guests to meet prior to the wedding day and for us to all hang out.




Enjoy!

I'm yet to test this point out- but not long to go for me now! We fly into Rarotonga on the 20th of November and I have no doubt that everything will be taken care of and we will feel instantly relaxed.
My destination wedding planning experience so far has been better than I imagined and I'm so grateful to The Pacific Resort for that.

Our first full day there is a Monday and we have a morning meeting with the lovely wedding coordinator, where she will show us through the resort and wedding locations and go through all of the fine details and any last minute decisions.
We will also meet with the celebrant during that time and go through how we want our vows to be done.
After that we have an afternoon meeting with our photographer and the rest of our time is free to relax and enjoy ourselves.
On Tuesday I have my hair and makeup consultation and then our organised Hen and Stag activities in the afternoon, and our meet up afterwards for dinner and a few drinks.
Wednesday is a free pamper day for me where I am planning on getting a nice massage and my nails done, and then Thursday the 24th is the big day!


It's less than two weeks until I fly out now so it's all getting very exciting.
I hope you found this post interesting and helpful in any way if you are planning a destination wedding of your own.
Stay tuned for a Rarotonga Travel Diary upon my return, and then a hotel and wedding destination review of The Pacific Resort.
If I have any more tips to add I may do a second more updated post on destination weddings.

Thanks so much for reading and I hope to catch you in my next post!

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*This post contains images that are not my own.

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